An Afternoon Surprise

When I walked out of my house onto the back deck yesterday, this sight caught my eye:

I couldn’t believe it. When were these built? The nest on the right was biggest and they descended in size for seven rafters.

I’ve had bird nests in the rafters before, but only one at a time. And why did the bird not finish any of them? I looked on the other side of the beam and saw this:

The wasp nest was very small, but it is more than likely the answer to my question. I wouldn’t want to raise babies there!

A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery- Part 2

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Last week, when I cleaned out the three birdhouses in my back yard, I discovered that the nests inside of them were different sizes.  One had barely been started, the second was 2-3 inches tall and the third almost filled the bird house.

In Part 1 of this series, I showed photos of the bird houses and the nests and questioned why the one was so big. I also wondered why the big one had a flat top; there was no place for a nesting bird and her eggs to lay.

Several people who read my first post told me that the big one was a wren’s nest. One reader thought that the bird houses were too close together and that the wren who made the big nest had chased the two other nest builders away. Another reader joked that the bird who made the big nest must have had OCD! No one speculated about the flat top.

I did some investigation. After looking at photos of wrens’ nests, I realized that the readers were right; the big one was a wren’s nest. From an Audubon Field Guide, I learned that a male wren may build several nests. When the nests are finished, the female wren chooses between them. The guide went on to say that the male may build some incomplete “dummy” nests. After reading that, I realized that it was a good possibility that the same wren had built all three nests.

I took the big nest inside so that I could look at it closer. Once I removed the top layer, I discovered a section that looked like a plug. It was much denser than the rest of the nest.

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I wondered what the plug had been plugging. When I looked underneath the plug, I saw this:

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It sure looked like an area that could have been meant for the female and her eggs!

The Audubon Guide had mentioned that wrens may puncture the eggs of birds that are nesting nearby. It also said that a female wren may leave the male to take care of her eggs, and go nest with another male. I wondered, partially in a joking way, if the female had not approved of any of the nests her partner had built and had taken off to find another male. If that was the case, had the abandoned male decided to plug the nest and add a solid roof on top so no other bird could use it? How in the world had he built the plug? I was left with another set of questions.

After finding the plug and the place that might have been intended for the female, I went back to examining the whole nest. I discovered it was made up of at least ten different materials.

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I separated much of the nest into ten piles. The remainder looked like this.

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I took a sample of this conglomeration of substances  and looked at it under the microscope. I was mesmerized by what I saw. (Click on the gallery to enlarge the photos.)

I had intended to make this a two-part series but have decided to divide it in three instead. In Part 3, I will show you microscopic images of the ten types of materials I found when I separated the components of the nest!

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For last segment go to: A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery- Part 3

A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery- Part 1

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In 2015, I added three bird houses to my back yard. Last spring, birds came in and out of the houses. I had thought they were making nests, but none of them stayed very long.

A few days ago, I decided it was time for me to look inside them, so I could remove old nests, if there were any, and get the accommodations ready for this year’s guests. I was very surprised by what I found.

Bird House #1

Bird House #2

Bird House #3

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Below is a photo of the three nests side by side.

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The third nest was built almost to the ceiling of the birdhouse. That nest was more than six inches high; and the top of it was completely flat. Both of those characteristics surprised and disturbed me.

The holes that give access to these bird houses are very small. Does anyone have an idea why a tiny bird would build a nest that large; a nest which practically fills the bird house? And why would a bird make the top of the nest flat, with no place to lay eggs? Do you know anything about this? I’d appreciate any information you could give me.

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A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery- Part 2.    A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery- Part 3

Weekly Photo Challenge: Trio 2

I looked up yesterday and was very surprised by what I saw.  Now that the leaves in the big tree that grows next to my house are gone, I can see that it holds a huge bird’s nest.  I wonder what kind of bird made it.

I decided to show three views of the nest as a second Weekly Photo Challenge: Trio!